Can you work & do the GDL?

It is well known that the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) is an extremely demanding and time-consuming course. There are at least seven compulsory modules to study between September and June, with constant work required throughout the academic year if you want to excel in your final exams.

  • Last updated Jan 14, 2019 11:36:13 AM
  • By AllAboutLaw

It’s also a rather expensive year. Even if you are lucky enough to have a training contract (which covers fees and might offer a living grant of up to £7,500 for the year), there won’t be heaps of spare cash lying around. If you move to London, over £5,000 can easily be blown on accommodation alone during the year, quickly eating up the majority of any grant.

Those without training contracts can face tuition fees for Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) to the tune of £10,000. But the million-dollar question is: can you get a job on the side whilst staying afloat with GDL workload?

Time-management and the GDL

There are two things to consider here. Firstly, is there time? While there is a great deal of studying required every week, you should be able to perform solidly on the Graduate Diploma in Law by studying nine to five every weekday.

Although timetabling will vary from one law school to another, it’s likely you’ll have four or five days where you’ll need to be on campus to attend lectures or tutorials. Assuming you devote those days entirely to studying, you could find yourself with between two to three days a week free to work.

Furthermore, don’t forget that as online learning resources are increasing in popularity, you might be able to watch lectures online at home. If your time management is any good, you can use this to your advantage and free up some space for part time work. This said, it’s still important to have time to socialise and relax. If you spend five days a week studying solidly and the remaining two working, it could be a rather tough year.

Studying the GDL part-time

One option for those who cannot attend law school without earning a significant amount on the side is to do GDL part-time over two years. Studying part time, you should technically have half the workload compared with those on the full-time course. With some institutions offering evening and weekend teaching to part-timers, it’s definitely possible to hold down a full-time job during the week, although it certainly requires dedication and hard work to remain on top of things.

Types of part-time work

Secondly, one has to consider the economic climate and types of job available—law schools generally aren’t like universities with student unions offering casual work to hundreds.

If you’re studying the GDL full time, a popular option for those seeking employment is casual shop work on the days off. Something like office work isn’t the easiest thing arrange for a couple of days a week or at weekends, but you never know what opportunities are knocking around.

One final tip: avoid night-time pub or bar work unless you absolutely have no other choice. If you can get away with working say 10am-7pm at the weekends, there’s no problem.  But working later shifts isn’t always conducive to productive studying. For example, if you finish law school at 5pm on a weekday then head off to work at your local between 6pm and 2am, it won’t be overly helpful in assisting your academic routine.

Making your own decision

Ultimately, nobody knows their strengths and weaknesses better than individuals themselves. If you think you can work long hours in the evenings and get all of your studying done, then go for it. If you know that you’re a bit of a last minute preparer for classes, you may want to think carefully about how you’d fit a job in. The GDL might be tough, but a bit of self-discipline and careful time management should see you through it just fine.

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